Courtesy MeThis past Sunday I released 1500 ladybugs in my backyard with my wife and daughter. It was awesome. I had gone to the local garden center to get some more praying mantis egg cases as I was pretty sure the ones I had put out earlier this spring had died as we had a couple of very late frosts. But, while I was in there they had this bag of ladybugs, and what can I say? They are cool bugs – I couldn’t resist.
Ladybugs are helpful because they eat other insects that are damaging to gardens or crops. In fact, the Mall of America here locally releases thousands of ladybugs in the amusement park to control insect pests. Don’t confuse them with Asian Beetles – ladybugs are a native insect.
The praying mantis is not native to Minnesota, but they are okay to release as they won’t survive the winter. I put out three egg cases earlier this spring with no luck almost two months later, so I bought two more cases as I am reasonably sure it won’t get below freezing again for some time. They are also beneficial as they eat other bugs (but interestingly, not ladybugs). Each egg case could release up to 200 mantises…the potential is there for 1000 mantises. Sweet.
My neighbors are viewing my releases a little skeptically, but I can’t wait to see the mantises and to show them to my daughter, who is not squeamish at all with bugs. She was quite helpful with the ladybugs and thought the whole thing to be quite fun, even when they were crawling all over her arms.
If you are interested in releasing ladybugs or praying mantises in your backyard, there are lots of internet sites that sell them, but also be sure to check your local garden center too.
Today while paying for my batteries at Radio Shack in Stillwater, I noticed on the counter a large model (or robot?) of an insect about 4 1/2 inches long. As I queried the clerk about the device. He said It was live and had been a visitor for several days. As we talked it very slowly turned about to face me. I leaned close and moved my head back and forth sideways. It followed my movements carefully. It didn't react fearfully when I touched it. Later climbed slowly on the clerks hand for a better look at me. Now I was surprised that Mantis could be that large, or that friendly. What's with these kind creatures?
As I watched the praying mantis crawling on my hand, I noticed something brownish coming out of its bottom. At first I thought it was feces, but then it started wriggling around vigorously. Was it a tapeworm, or some unknown species of worm?
We brought the worm home in a bag and searched on the internet. It was a hairworm, a parasite that feeds on the insides of insects and brainwashes the insects into jumping into the water, where it completes its lifecycle. That makes sense because the praying mantis jumped off my hand into a wading pool just before I brought it onto land and the hairworm started coming out.
We've only found examples of hairworms coming out of grasshoppers and rarely emerging from damselfies/dragonflies. Has a hairworm ever before been observed coming out of a praying mantis? I found it on Oct. 4, 2006 at Kyodo no Mori in Fuchu-shi in Tokyo when my 4th grade class from ASIJ was on a field trip.
My name is Elsa and I am nine years old. I want to be either an entemologist or a herpetologist when I grow up.